How to Become a Nurse in New York

Choosing to attend one of the nursing schools in New York is a solid investment for an applicant’s future. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the nursing workforce will grow by 15 percent over the next 10 years, which bodes well for graduates of nursing programs with respect to job availability and security. The Health Care Association of New York notes that the shortage of nurses in the state has resulted in difficulties recruiting and retaining talent. This talent shortage means that prospective nurses have a good opportunity to make a difference in not just patients’ lives, but the healthcare system as a whole.

The Office of the Professions in the New York State Education Department (NYSED) is the regulatory body for nursing programs in New York, as well as for registration and licensure. Students who want to become a CNA, LPN, RN, or APN in New York can read more about the licensure process below.

How to Get Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Certification in New York

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are responsible for helping patients with activities of daily living, such as using the bathroom, getting dressed, feeding, and bathing. In New York, this position is called certified nurse aide, and CNA registry is managed by the New York State Department of Health. Applicants who wish to obtain a New York CNA certificate will need to complete a state-approved CNA training program and pass the New York State Nursing Home Nurse Aide Competency Examination. The competency exam measures applicants’ clinical skills and verbal communication skills. A representative from the completed educational program, or a representative from a current place of healthcare employment, will need to fill out a portion of the application.

The certifying authority for a New York CNA license is the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Professional Credentialing. To renew a New York CNA license, applicants will need to visit the Prometric website for access to the application itself. Applicants are eligible for renewal as long as they have been working in a healthcare facility providing a CNA level of care for a minimum of eight consecutive months within the previous two years.

How to Get a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) License in New York

Applicants who wish to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in New York must go through the license and registration process with the NYSED. Applicants for a New York LPN license should:

  • Have photo ID and proof of last name change, if applicable.
  • Be at least 17 years old at the time of application.
  • Complete the education requirements, which for an LPN is a high school degree or equivalent, plus a nursing program recognized and approved by New York.
  • Complete the specific coursework required by New York, which includes infection control and child abuse reporting.
  • Meet examination requirements.

Similar to the RN licenses, applicants who have qualified for a New York LPN license will have their New York nursing license for life unless it is revoked, suspended or annulled by the New York State Board of Regents. The New York LPN registration certificate lasts for three years before renewal is necessary. Nurses cannot legally practice if their registration is expired.

How to Get a Registered Nurse (RN) License in New York

Applicants who wish to become a registered nurse in New York must go through the license and registration process with the Office of the Professions at NYSED. Applicants for a New York RN license should:

  • Have photo ID and proof of last name change, if applicable
  • Be at least 18 years old at the time of application
  • Complete the education requirements, which could be an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree, or a diploma program recognized by NYSED as qualifying for an RN licensure
  • Complete the specific coursework required by New York, which includes infection control and child abuse reporting
  • Take the nursing license exam (NCLEX)
  • Pay the $143 registration fee

Once applicants have qualified for the New York nursing license, the license is valid forever unless revoked, suspended or annulled by the New York State Board of Regents. The New York RN registration certificate lasts for three years before renewal is necessary. Nurses cannot legally practice if their registration is expired.

How to Get an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) License in New York

New York recognizes two types of advanced practice nurses who have a higher level of practice autonomy than other nurses: nurse practitioners (NP) and clinical nurse specialists (CNS). To practice as an NP or CNS, a nurse must hold an active RN license in New York and be certified and registered as an NP or CNS in the state. Nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists are certified in one or more specialty areas. To be certified and registered as a CNS or NP, an applicant should:

  • Currently be licensed and registered as an RN in New York.
  • Have photo ID and proof of last name change, if applicable.
  • Submit an application for certification and registration, along with an $85 fee for NPs and $80 fee for CNS.
  • For a nurse practitioner:
    • Provide proof of graduation from an NP education program deemed acceptable by the NYSED or have national NP certification from a national certifying body.
    • Complete coursework in pharmacology (NPs in New York have prescriptive authority).
    • Show proof of coursework and applicable professional experience in one or more of the following specialties, depending on which specialty the applicant is seeking certification in: Acute Care, Adult Health, College Health, Community Health, Family Health, Gerontology, Holistic Care, Neonatology, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Oncology, Pediatrics, Palliative Care, Perinatology, Psychiatry, School Health, and Women's Health.
  • For a certified nurse specialist:
    • Provide proof of graduation from an approved CNS education program with a master’s degree or higher, or meet alternate criteria based on professional experience.
    • Choose one or more of the following specialty areas: Adult Health, Oncology, Pediatrics and Psychiatry/Mental Health

When candidates are approved, they will receive a certification certificate and registration certificate. NP and CNS certifications last forever in New York, but registration must be renewed every three years with NYSED.